Example of Play

Commentary on Games Design

Tight Briefs #1: Hold the Point Games

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Tight briefs?

No, I normally walk like this.

Hi, I’m Matt and I’m Sam’s partner in crime in this blog. Sam was moping that he was an unfulfilled content crafter locked in a dispiriting existence of talking to me about board games on GChat.  Eventually I got bored listening to his constant wailing and agreed to help out on a blog intended to unleash our thoughts about games onto folk that miss-click links that we intend to embed everywhere.

One of the aforementioned GChat sessions got us to talking about ‘hold the point’ games and why we should design one. These are games where one player gains and hold a position of power and will likely win if allowed to hold it until the game ends. The current poster child for this type of game is King of Tokyo in which Tokyo is, fairly obviously, the point being held. Once you look past that though there are surprisingly few examples to look for inspiration. A post on the boardgamegeek recommendations forum yielded nothing. A flat-line of responses other one from Sam after I moaned at the lack of traffic and he gave the thread a charity bump. Never one to be perturbed by being ignored I persevered and came up with the following examples:

King of Tokyo


Antler Island

…and that’s it. A gap in the market, perhaps? Certainly those games are fairly well received and it seems like an under-represented mechanism.  This enthused us and we starting working on a fairly quick (45 minute) lightweight game with this central mechanism in mind. Sam unleashed a brain-dump of theme ideas into a GDoc whilst I did my bit by whipping up a skeletal rules frame using a working placement idea.

Aside #1: We use GChat and GDocs a lot.

Aside #2: There are no decent 45 minute worker placement games (Caylus Magna Carta doesn’t count because it usually takes 60-90 minutes, which in my opinion, means that you may as well play Caylus).

The theme list came out looking like this:

Journalists with a scoop
Monsters in Tokyo
Marines on Hill #416 in ‘Nam
A security guard for the president
Magic Mountain Resource Production
Some kind of training school – point being the wise teacher
Boy scouts literally holding the hill from invasion
Laser robot army attacks a city hall
Zombie apocalypse (:/)
Bandits holding a wild west village to ransom
Mobsters owning bits of the city
Animals vying for  the best breeding/feasting grounds
Scientists holding the title of “most popular scientist” in research papers. (nice)
Murder Mystery Noire Detectives working on “the big case”
Pet breeders going on for “best pet” title
Local village Garden vegetable growers “biggest carrot” competition. (Ah, yeah)
Government agencies working on the “crashed alien spaceship” in international waters
School kid girls wanting the “prettiest girl” title at school
Sports teams (football, softball, tennis, Olympics, elephant polo) holding the international cup
Pop/Rock Bands holding the best new artist title
Futuristic armies trying to hold “the point” (an important strategic area)
Space Alien Races trying to hold an important planet (see: Dune/Rex)
Samurai Fighters trying to win the title of “emperor’s chosen”
Discovery of Americas (or whatever) each nation going for “most powerful nation”

The Mobster theme seemed to strike a chord with both of us and we started to populate the GDoc with various thematically on topic things that a mob might do to hold onto a position of power in a town. This morphed into medieval guilds pretty quickly and started to take shape.

For those readers thinking that we are starting to sound like a professional outfit, the working title was ‘Grimy Funk Tycoon’

First round play-testing went fairly well this weekend in as much as it worked, broadly, as a game. It’s a ‘make money to win the game’ piece though, so there is a lot of balancing of the economics to do before it’s fit to show anyone.

This is what we do folks. We throw ideas around after coming up with a strange quirk or restriction. We never give up either: we have a load of GDocs in various stages of incomplete shoddiness that we will probably get back to at some point. I will try to write up a few of these train of thought pieces over the coming weeks, if it spurs you to do something similar- great! If you want to chime in on the comments to chivvy up our efforts- then that is certainly welcome too.


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